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The best way to learn is by trying

"Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey."

“There is only one way to learn,’ the Alchemist answered. ‘It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.’ ”

The quote above is from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I won’t try to hide the level of my fandom. I’m obsessed with Paulo Coelho, and quite possibly have two tattoos referencing his work. Borderline stalking aside, while re-reading The Alchemist on my six-month sabbatical from the real world, this quote jumped out to me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about action, and why this quote, in particular, struck me is because of its validity. In the last year I’ve learned to ride motorcycles, rock climb, cross Thai-Laos borders with a bike with no registration, among a plethora of other things. Though I’m stoked to have all this new knowledge, the only reason any of this was possible was due to action. It was taking initiative and deciding I was tired of what I was doing, and wanted to do more.

In the west, a common phrase I hear is, “I’m gonna take a class.” Though it seems like the start to a new venture, it has become more of an excuse. Instead of jumping into a new hobby, people use the façade of taking a course to prolong actually trying something. The “act,” of taking a course has become an acceptable excuse for inaction.

Though classes can be helpful, and guidance is great, the best method for learning something new is by trying. If you want something, you need to take the initiative and do it. What better way to start than jumping in head first?